Friday 24 May 2024
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“Jho Low told me that this money [was] for political purposes of Barisan Nasional and Umno... He also said if anything happened to him, he has proof to show that what he did was from the wishes of Najib himself.”

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14): Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan said she had questioned Low Taek Jho when a portion of the 1MDB investment money ended up in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank account. However, the fugitive assured her that the money was for Umno and that Najib knew about it. 

Loo, testifying as the 50th prosecution witness in the 1MDB-Tanore trial, testified she had not known anything of money flowing into Najib’s personal account from 1MDB funds until 2015/2016, when the media reported on it and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had reported about these funds as well. 

The funds she was referring to were from the second phase of the trial, namely two transactions concerning the acquisition of independent power producers Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd and Mastika Lagenda Sdn Bhd. Mastika owned 75% shares in Genting Sanyen Sdn Bhd. 

The two acquisitions never took off and the money raised by 1MDB were funnelled into accounts owned by Jho Low and his associates. 

Loo testified that a sum of US$576,943,490 and US$790,354,855 had entered into the bank account of Aabar Investment PJS Ltd (BVI) – a fake Aabar entity – and then into Blackstone Asia Real Estate’s bank account. Blackstone Asia Real Estate was owned by Jho Low’s associate Eric Tan Kim Loong. 

She said a portion of that money went into Najib’s bank account.

The prosecution’s opening statement in this trial said that a total sum of US$5 million was banked into Najib’s AmBank private account on Oct 30, 2012; and another US$25 million on Nov 19 that same year.

The prosecution said this money had been transferred into Najib’s bank account from Blackstone’s. 

Loo, reading out her witness statement in court, said she asked Jho Low about the money when she found out about these transactions.

“He (Jho Low) said everything is legitimate and that any transactions made are supported by the promissory notes; beyond that, he didn’t give me any details or explanations,” she said. 

“Jho Low told me that this money [was] for political purposes of Barisan Nasional and Umno. 

“After I pressed him further on this, Jho Low told me not to worry, and that he will handle it and that I need not take any action, as he will handle it all,” she added.

“He also said that if anything happened to him, he had proof to show that what he did was from the wishes of Najib himself,” Loo said, reading from her witness statement before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah. 

Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah then stood up to object to this portion of Loo’s statement, claiming it was hearsay. Sequerah did not make a ruling on the purported passage but told Shafee to submit on it at the end of the trial. 

Jho Low had official PMO letterheads with him for personal use

Elaborating on the relationship Najib and Jho Low had with each other, Loo shared that Jho Low had in his possession, blank, yellow-coloured Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) letterheads for his own personal use if necessary. 

She shared an example of how Jho Low used them. 

“For example, I have seen a letter from the PMO regarding the appointment of [former 1MDB CEO Mohd] Hazem [Abdul] Rahman that Jho Low prepared at his home in Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur, and according to him (Jho Low), he will take it to [Najib] to be signed. Then, the same letter was signed and sent to the 1MDB office and Hazem Rahman was [subsequently] appointed,” she said. 

Loo said that she often saw Najib and Jho Low in close quarters, when they attended 1MDB functions or other programmes together. 

She shared another incident in which she was asked by Jho Low to attend a meeting with Najib, and report to him (Jho Low) what Najib and the rest had discussed. 

“Another example: during [Najib’s visit] to New York to attend the UN Conference in 2013, Jho Low was also in New York, waiting for him at the Mandarin Oriental, New York. Jho Low [had] also arranged a meeting for [Najib] with American investors, in collaboration with Goldman Sachs. I was instructed to attend the meeting at the Times Warner Center, next to the Mandarin Oriental New York, to monitor and report to Jho Low on what was discussed,” she said.

Loo had surrendered to authorities last year, after having been on the run for five years. She is a close associate of Jho Low, and has been named as a key figure in the 1MDB scandal.

Kee Kok Thiam, another Jho Low accomplice, also surrendered to authorities in May last year. However, Kee died a few weeks later, after suffering a stroke at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

Aside from Jho Low, former 1MDB CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil is also still at large.

In this trial, Najib faces four counts of abuse of power for using his position as then prime minister, finance minister and chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers to receive gratifications worth RM2.27 billion. He also faces 21 money laundering charges. The trial continues on Friday (Feb 16). 

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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